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Do we stick with IT Contracting or go permanent?

(13 Posts)
Hassled Fri 10-Oct-08 11:27:55

DH has been a contractor for 2 years - never been without a contract, has done well. And we've paid off the horrific debts that caused him to go down the self-employed route in the first place. He enjoys it, and it's good money. The only bit he doesn't like is that tension of will he/won't he get his contract renewed or find a new one every few months - makes us both edgy, and it's hard to plan ahead.

He's been offered a permanent job with a very large multinational software company. It is less money - about a third less - but has a pension and bonus scheme (target related) which takes it a bit closer to the contracting take-home. He also possibly has another 3 month contract lined up - one which could well run to 6 months. And we don't know which way to jump - obviously no guarantee the contracts will keep coming our way, and the comparative job security, opportunities for career progression etc at the Company are attractive. But the Company's clients tend to be financial institutions...


BecauseImAWitch Fri 10-Oct-08 11:36:56

Do you have any savings, would be my first question?

Also, having been self employed/running my own business for 10 years now I reckon I'm actually unemployable. The thought of working for someone else is just something I don't wish to contemplate. Having said that, I do appreciate that it might have to come to that if the work stops coming in!

So my second question would be about his personal/job satisfaction and if he would really enjoy working in a permanent position?

Do you have any sense as to how much work the company has? Frankly, even if they are financial institutions, they will still have IT systems that have to be maintained - in fact you could argue that this current climate will require more work.

Hassled Fri 10-Oct-08 13:54:37

Thanks for replying - yes, some savings but not a bucketload. Enough to keep us going for a couple of months without a contract - we've just focused on paying off debts which we've done). If he takes this next contract we'll be able to salt away a lot more. It's just the constant uncertainty that worries us.

Re the job satisfaction stuff - my worry is that he is one of these people who gets embroiled in all the office politics and really cares about his work; brings it home with him etc. When he was last permanent, he would spend a good half an hour when he got home just ranting about who said what to whom, how incompetent X is, how Y should have done that etc - and to an extent being a contractor has made him a lot more relaxed and able to walk away from stuff.

baytree11 Sat 11-Oct-08 03:49:14

Hassled, im in exactly the same situation so i know exactly how you and your DH feel!!

DH has been a contractor for nearly 5yrs, never been without a contract, and yes, very good money. His last contract lasted 4 yrs and that was pretty lucky, it finally finished in May, as DH didn't want to wait until theres contract near where we live, he decided to take any job, just keep the money coming, so now hes working away ( I mean, outside the UK ), its hard sometimes as I am pg but he comes home every weekend...and yes, i know what you mean, its very hard to plan ahead like sometimes friends asked, whens he coming back home for good? i would say, don;t know, i don't even know if he will hv to continue staying there and I don't know if i want to move there! anyway, its a difficult decision.

You can argue that so called 'permanent' isn't that reliable, given the current climax, well, nothing is guarantee really, you can work there as a permanent staff and after a year or 2 then they can still make you redundant. ...the positive side about working as a contractor is that the money is ALOT better, i mean, i know money isn't everything but without money you cant do anything!

DH is still working as a contractor and contract has been extended but he has recently been given the opportunity of going permanent but its the company hes currently working for which means ( living overseas!) we have decided if theres a contract for him, he will continue working as a contractor, but yes, i know, DH is the same, sometimes the tension of will he/wont he get his contract renewed can be very stressful...but both DH & I have come to terms with the fact that this is life, this is part of the reason why you get good money, but in an ideal world, i wish hes working from home and still gets paid that well.

Furball Sat 11-Oct-08 05:58:53

my dh is also an it contractor and his contract runs out at the end of the year. He has been at the same place for about 5 years and I'm/he's scared. If in your shoes I would say take the permanent job, with this climate it's going to be overun with contractors as well as others looking for work.

The company dh contracts with have just made 500 redundant shocksad and let alot of contracts lapse.

If you could limp through all this with a job at the end IMHO I think you are very lucky, grim as it sounds I think we haven't seen anything yet.

Twiglett Sat 11-Oct-08 07:38:30

right now i'd take permanent with a 2 to 3 year plan like a BLOODY SHOT!

markets are grinding downwards, there is fall-out through freelance

Judy1234 Sat 11-Oct-08 08:04:50

Stay free lance. More fun. More money. Although a recent decision about someone who did work for the AA said in reality he was an employee and he has £99k of back tax to pay so do check the tax position.

RubberDuck Sat 11-Oct-08 08:42:31

Can he check finances of the company who has offered him a job? I.e. do they have any debt?

Dh has been headhunted for another job and that's the first thing he checked. Companies without any debt and some savings so they can be self-financing are likely to do quite well in the current climate, but if they already have a large percentage of debt now are likely to be fragile.

Remember as well, that while contractors are the first to go (no costs to not renew the contract) so are the last people employed (last in first out).

Hassled Sat 11-Oct-08 09:46:48

Thank you all - somre really useful insights. We're still dithering - have decided we can keep dithering until Tuesday, at which point the Company will be needing an answer from us. I am very conscious how lucky we are in that at least we have options.

geekgirl Sat 11-Oct-08 09:55:23

we have just been in the same dilemma and were inbetween contracts in that Lehman crash week which kind of added to the excitement of it all hmm - my dh sounds like yours, he also gets terribly embroiled in office politics and takes things being done badly very personal, and then I hear all evening about how sh*t this or that system is and how x is such an idiot for not understanding etc, etc, etc...... hmm
Anyway, he ended up getting another contract a week ago - highest paid one he's ever had in 10 years of contracting, too. He had been very tempted to go permie but thb it would have completely f*cked us financially, even with perks.

I think the security offered by permie work is very misleading, anyway. You can lose your job and get a ridiculously low redundancy payment unless you've been there for decades. And don't get me started on the unpaid overtime culture that pervails in some many places...

tribpot Sat 11-Oct-08 10:10:08

Over the last few years I've had the opposite dilemma, whether to go back to contracting from permie. When I got pregnant I thought the security of permiedom was the way to go but having realised half the organisation were either contractors or consultants or both I kinda wonder how much more money I could have made doing the same job!

On the other hand, we are starting to crack down on contractors now and replace with permies, I think the market's much less solid. Quite a number of our contractors are willing to consider going permie now.

The office politics thing is interesting, certainly I was more relaxed in some ways as a contractor (mainly about the location - I would have been sent to the arse end of Sweden as a permie but as a contractor I had the choice). I guess the downside of permying is you do generally have to do stuff you wouldn't want to in order to earn the bigger bucks.

Depends what financial commitments you've got - mortgage? children? What if he also had to go overseas to find work?

Hassled Sat 11-Oct-08 10:26:35

Financial commitments are immense - hefty mortgage on a house that needs a lot of work (the current absence of a ceiling in the kitchen is only one of our problems ), 4 kids, 2 of whom are at University. I could earn more than I do if I put my mind to it, but without retraining will never be a high earner, so not a short-term solution.

Redundancy any time soon would be a nightmare, but if he kept contracting for at least a while longer we'd have saved enough to provide a buffer. But on the other hand the sort of permanent job offer he's got doesn't come along very often. And they seem to really want him.

Judy1234 Sat 11-Oct-08 13:48:34

Definitely contracting then. People employed are being laid off a lot. You lose power and control and a more favourable tax position for (these days) not much stability as an employee. The old deal that you worked 40 years and got your gold watch are over.

One protection thought might be if you could earn a bit more. I don't think you really do need qualifications to earn a lot - know loads of people who set up businesses in all knids of areas - nurses starting nursing agencies, cleaners cleaning agencies without any qualifications at all, just lots of hard work and drive.

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